Rafael to Reach Hurricane Status, Remain Flood Threat: AIR

Tropical Storm Rafael, which has already flooded low lying areas of the Caribbean, is expected to become a Level 1 Hurricane later today or Tuesday as it avoids the U.S. coastline and skim the edges of Bermuda Puerto Rico according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.

The storm has flooded low-lying areas of the Caribbean, including parts of the Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts, and Antigua. It’s most likely track with move the storm towards Bermuda on Tuesday as it enters an “area favorable for intensification” with warm sea surface temperatures and weakened wind shear, AIR said. The storm is expected to take an easterly course back over the Atlantic.

Even though the storm is expected to become the ninth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, it’s unlikely to move past the first level of the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.

“The most likely forecast track takes Rafael just east of Bermuda by Tuesday but it does not currently represent a risk to the U.S. Given that the radius of tropical storm force winds is about 175 miles (mainly to the east of the system), Puerto Rico and Bermuda will be right on the borderline of tropical storm-force winds, and will escape Rafael’s strongest winds,” said Scott Stransky, senior scientist at AIR said in a statement. “However, a shift in the track towards the west could bring stronger winds closer to Bermuda. Wind damage is expected to be minimal; its most substantial effect throughout the region will likely be from flooding.”

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